For a driver who'd just finished on the podium in the first F1 race of 2013, Sebastian Vettel
wasn't exactly looking overjoyed.
But given that Red Bull
had come into the Australian Grand Prix weekend in Melbourne riding on a high after dominating the final pre-season testing, and then going on to convincingly lock-up the front row of the grid at Albert Park in the rain-hit qualifying session that had been deferred to Sunday morning, Vettel had been expecting more.
"I think you're always a little disappointed when you start first and don't finish first, said the reigning world champion, who comes into the 2013 season aiming to make it four titles in a row. "But overall it was a good weekend for us," he rallied. "We had a good day today with a pole and a podium."
“Starting from the front row, third and sixth obviously wasn't the result we were targeting," agreed Red Bull
team principal Christian Horner. "But all things considered, with the way that the race panned out, I think it was the optimum we could achieve."
Vettel had got a great start off the line, unlike his team mate Mark Webber, who was suffering from telemetry and KERS problems and rapidly dropped back to seventh place. He's pulled out a two second lead at one point over the rest of the field and looked set to scamper away into the distance as many had expected before the race. Only it didn't happen.
Instead, the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa
and Fernando Alonso
started to cut the gap down and were soon both running within a second of the Red Bull. But an even more potent problem was emerging in the shape of those drivers managing to make a two-stop strategy work, chiefly Kimi Raikkonen
in the Lotus and Force India's Adrian Sutil.
"Obviously the degradation was a bit more intense for us than for others," admitted Vettel. "We had a bit of a problem with the wear of the tyres - and obviously Kimi did the best job looking after the tyres out of everyone managing to stop only twice. A two-stop strategy was never on the table for us after Friday."
Horner had been equally impressed by the Finn's performance in Melbourne. "Lotus seemed very light on its tyres, with Kimi being able to make a two-stop race really work for him," he said.
"In the race we were a little too aggressive with the tyres and lost the front and the rears, while others did a little better," Vettel continued. "Right from the first few laps we saw that it would be very hard to look after the tyres and that Ferrari
was closing in.